Mine expansion denied amid community concern

Berrima Colliery’s plan to extend its coalmining operations to 2020 has been refused after locals complained about noise and traffic from coal-hauling trucks.

The colliery, located west of the Wingecarribee River, was given the go ahead to keep mining last year, however the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group (SHCAG) challenged the decision on the Land and Environment Court.

The commission upheld SHCAG’s appeal, finding the impact of the proposed haulage route would be "sufficiently detrimental" to residents of Medway, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

The proposal to extend mining operations to 2020 and expand the mine site about four kilometres to the north was approved last year, but residents called for a review amid concerns over the impact of coal haulage along Medway Road.

Residents argued that the road was not suitable for regular use by heavy trucks, claiming the vehicles damaged the pavement.

They were also concerned with the level of noise the trucks produced through the township.

The court heard that daily coal truck operations were set to increase to 132, up from 23, or the equivalent of a truck going through the village every six minutes.

The commissioners found that the residents had raised valid concerns.

"Medway Road, even if it is repaired, widened and maintained … is unsuitable for 132 truck movements every weekday because trucks pass through [the village], creating noise and emitting dust," they said.

"There is inevitably a conflict between the large number of trucks passing through the village, and traffic and pedestrians.

"We are not satisfied that the proposed conditions, including the preparation of a road transport protocol, will satisfactorily ameliorate the detrimental impacts."

The commissioners invited the colliery to propose another route.

The court found there were "major and fundamental issues" with the proposal unresolved.

Image: Southern Highlands News

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